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Labour amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill welcomed by USDAW, as Portsmouth MP urges the Government to support them 

By 10 May 2024May 25th, 2024No Comments
Photo © of Stephen Morgan MP

Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed two amendments to the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill that have been tabled by shadow policing minister Alex Norris MP (Labour/Co-op Nottingham North), supported by Stephen Morgan MP. 

The draft legislation is due to begin its remaining stages in the House of Commons on Wednesday 15 May 2024, when these amendments could be debated and voted on by all MPs.  

The first amendment calls for a standalone offence for abusing or assaulting a shop worker in the course of their duties, something Stephen Morgan MP, Usdaw, and many retailers have long called for, but was opposed by the Government and most Conservative MPs over many years.  

The City MP previously wrote to the Minister for Policing to call on the Government to add teeth to their Retail Action Plan by offering shopworkers the protection they deserve through introducing a standalone offence to give shopworkers the protection from harm they deserve. 

Last month the Government did a U-turn and agreed for the need to legislate.  

The second amendment seeks to reverse the Conservative decriminalisation of shoplifting, which allows the theft of goods worth up to £200 to be dealt with through a Fixed Penalty Notice, rather than a full prosecution.  

In practice, the effect of this change 10 years ago has been to give an open invitation to steal from stores and there are now record levels of shoplifting, up by over one-third last year. 

Mr Morgan has been an active campaigner in favour of scrapping the £200 threshold, writing to Ministers to raise the issue and tabling written parliamentary questions calling on the Government to reassess the relationship between decriminalisation and rising levels of shoplifting. 

He will continue to call on the Government to back Labour’s amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill. 

Commenting, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said: 

“The scale of violence, abuse and threats towards shop workers and extent of the retail crime epidemic has shockingly become the norm in Portsmouth and many areas across the country. 

“That’s why I have long supported Usdaw’s campaign calling on the Government to treat this issue with the urgency deserves, that includes the introduction of a standalone offence better protecting shopworkers from abuse. 

“The dither and delay of this Government, on this issue, over many years, has led to thousands of shop workers needlessly suffering physical and mental injury – they must now back Labour’s amendments which will see an end to shoplifters committing crimes with impunity.”  

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s General Secretary said: 

“Labour’s amendment would deliver for retail staff in England and Wales the protection that has existed in Scotland for three years.  

“Labour’s second amendment would end the perverse £200 threshold for prosecuting shoplifters, which has effectively become an open invitation to retail criminals.  

“Both amendments will go a long towards giving shop workers, who are key workers in every community, the respect that they have long deserved and regrettably too often do not receive.” 

It follows a range of actions undertaken by the Portsmouth MP to lobby the Government to take action to tackle shoplifting, as well as raising concerns on the parliamentary floor, meeting with local police and retailers, and campaigning for more bobbies on the beat. 

Mr Morgan recently brought together traders and small businesses on Palmerston Road and surrounding areas to hear views and concerns and take further action.